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Holy Week 101

Posted on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 2:36 pm

by Pastor Dawn Marie Turner, First Christian Church, Bowling Green, and New Harmony Christian Church


Holy Week is this week.  Phrases like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter abound in the speech of the churched. To the unchurched, though, what do those phrases mean?  As Christians we often forget that our vernacular, or the way we talk, can be as much of a turn-off as an elitist attitude.  So let’s break this down to be understandable.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter. It is where Jesus had his last meal the Jewish Passover meal with his disciples.  During that gathering Jesus washed the feet of the disciples.  Maundy translates to mean, washing the feet of the poor.

Good Friday is not really a good day as much as a dark day.  It is the day Jesus was crucified.  Many churches have tenebrae services which are services of shadow or darkness.  This day is “good” as it is the day Jesus atoned or agreed to die for our sins.

Holy Saturday is often a day set aside for prayer as we contemplate or reflect on the meaning of what happened on Thursday and Friday.  Some churches will hold prayer vigil or prayer services on this day.

Easter is a day many of us know. We think of bunnies and chocolate and hidden eggs.  In the Christian faith it is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus from death to life.  It is a day we see his followers come to the tomb and see that it is empty but the grave cloths.  It is the day that Jesus tells Mary Magdalene that He is Alive.

Easter is a marvelous, wonderful, exciting day, but I encourage you to enjoy the other days of Holy Week.  Get a full picture of that week.

Walk the path with Jesus; see him with his disciples, see him share that last meal, lovingly wash his disciples feet, see him betrayed by Judas, see him in deep prayer crying out to God, see him denied by Peter, abandoned by those who he loved, see him suffer beatings and humiliation and see him upon the cross.

Try not to look away as he suffers in agony between two others, hear his final words.

Look at the few who hurriedly prepare his body for burial before sunrise and place him the tomb.  See the Roman guards placed there to guard the tomb.

This is like many of us; we suffer-pain, betrayal, denial, we cry out to God, we suffer emotional and physical beat downs.  We each carry our crosses and humiliations.

Author Rob Bell says, “The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, ‘Me too.’” Matthew 16:24 (CEV)24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.  Jesus understands, he has been there, done that and has the piercings to prove it. He wants to help us. He  wants us to know he died for us.  Don’t doubt that very truth but rejoice in it.  He is Alive!! Hallelujah! He is alive for you.

I invite you to visit a church this Holy Week.  There are many out there willing to share these experiences with you.